Helmsley Charitable Trust George S. Eisenbarth nPOD Award for Team Science

nPOD was awarded the Helmsley Charitable Trust George S. Eisenbarth nPOD Award for Team Science in December 2014. Funds from this award will support the research activities of newly formed nPOD working groups and pilot studies designed to catalyze progress in critical areas of T1D.

You can find more information on the four main aspects of the Helmsley Charitable Trust George S. Eisenbarth nPOD Award for Team Science here:

Working Groups Support:

This award will empower a dramatic expansion of the scientific activities that nPOD aims to promote through the application of Team Science approaches and the formation of collaborative working groups.

nPOD-Viral: Through nPOD promoted web-based discussions, nPOD investigators assembled a group with the goal of defining a multidisciplinary strategy to address the role of viruses through the joint study of nPOD specimens. The nPOD-Viral working group has since pioneered group interactions and developed an effective model for collaboration.

nPOD-Autoimmunity: This group focuses on the study of autoreactive T and B cells, other immune cell types with multiple goals of defining T cell receptor sequences, antigen specificities and functional properties of cells that can all become therapeutic targets.

nPOD-ECM: This group is interested in the study of extra-cellular matrix components in the pathogenesis of T1D.

nPOD-Omics: This group aims to establish standardized ‘omics data for each precious sample to better understand T1D pathogenesis. This group is divided into five subgroups to address each of the current areas of ‘omics research: genomics, gene expression, epigenetics, proteomics, and metagenomics.

nPOD-Transplant: This group is aimed at scientifically researching human pancreatic tissue from organ donors who have had a pancreas transplant.

Other: Additional groups are being organized. In particular, we plan on launching a group that will focus on key topics regarding beta cell regeneration, trans-differentiation and dedifferentiation. If you would like to suggest potential new groups please contact Alberto Pugliese.

Pilot Funding Support:

It is critical to provide pilot funds to investigators who approach nPOD with novel ideas but have limited funding and to attract investigators that can perform studies not currently covered by existing projects. Such funding for new studies will help address questions that we recognize as important yet are not currently being pursued. We believe new findings generated from such efforts could then garner independent funding and later integrate into working groups.

We accept applications at any time. You can apply using the Investigator Application. Applicants should indicate at the time of submission whether they would like to be considered for pilot funding. Up to $25,000 may be requested for a pilot study. Funding decisions are made by the nPOD Tissue Prioritization Committee and the Helmsley Charitable Trust. While fully explained in the application form, criteria for consideration are:

  • Conceptual innovation
  • Methodological innovation
  • Lack of dedicated funding
  • Relevance to nPOD main research themes/working groups

Funded pilot projects would be asked to submit a final report upon completion of research, deposit data in DataShare, and acknowledge support in publications and presentations.

Awards for pilot studies can be made to individual projects, which could later merge into a working group. In the future, ideas that emerge from working groups may also have the chance to gain pilot funding.

Infrastructure Support:

The award supplies funding for a new central laboratory for nPOD headed by Dr. Todd Brusko.

The central laboratory will perform coordinated analysis when the type of the sample prevents distribution to multiple investigators or, when possible, execute sophisticated cell purification procedures and then distribute to investigators.

The grant includes funding for reagents necessary for conducting centralized flow cytometry analysis and cell sorting and a small but critical equipment upgrade (BD Biosciences, Automated Cell Deposition Unit 96 well adapter) allowing for the isolation of immune subsets. The core will have a critical role in preparing samples and cell preparations for distribution to investigators and will perform a set of critical multiplexed assays as defined with the scientific input of the investigators in the working groups.

Datashare Support:

The grant provides funding for the upkeep and expansion of DataShare, nPOD’s online collection of shared data generated through the study of nPOD specimens.

What is DataShare? DataShare is an online system for “real-time” data sharing, meaning prior to publication, among nPOD members. Information is thus available early to inform strategies and reconciliation of discordant data during the course of the studies conducted by the groups. Real-time data sharing has proven to be of critical importance, especially for working groups. nPOD has deployed and continues to develop DataShare, a collaborative web-based tool for communication. Investigators use DataShare to search potential cases with related or unrelated parameters, or by matching tissues from studies that uses the same donor tissue. They also use DataShare to communicate their findings with other investigators.

How the grant supports DataShare: The Helmsley Charitable Trust grant provides support for a scientific coordinator who will interact with investigators to facilitate contributions to DataShare. In order for DataShare to become fully effective, it is vital to educate and guide investigators through the process of depositing data in a timely fashion.